This next picture is the ancient town of Shali, in the middle of present-day Siwa. It used to be a formidable fortress, but (this is kind of nuts) 3 straight days of rain in 1926 melted much of the salt/rock/mud walls, and people largely abandoned it.
It is really cool walking around inside it at night because they have it all lit up.
This is an HDR from inside Shali.
This requires an explanation. We went out for a fantastic meal and I ordered a very complex smoothie. Apparently the waiter liked my order, because it came back with a heart on it! We found this hilarious
That night after buying some gifts for my Aunt and Uncle, I came across a few Siwans huddled around a ping pong table. I watched for a while and then got involved, playing the 2nd best guy there, and beating him pretty handily (21-14, 21-5) once I got the hang of the table. Then i played the champ and got pretty much obliterated. The dude was playing with the worse paddle, and he still could spin it so it stopped on a dime. The thing was, I couldn't even see him spinning it, so sometimes it would come at me full speed, and sometimes it would just rise straight up. I can't tell you how many times I feebly whiffed at the ball and missed. It was incredibly fun though, and there probably aren't too many people that can say they've played ping pong with a Siwan!
On the way back from Siwa we took a public bus to Marsa Matruh and then bartered with a microbus driver to bring us and 5 girls we had met in Siwa back to Cairo. As you can see from the picture above, it was a looooong trip. The whole weekend in Siwa was fantastic though. It was good to get into clean air and the much more laid-back lifestyle in Siwa.